Posted by: atowhee | July 13, 2022



One of our most intrepid traveling correspondents just checked in, from the Arctic Circle! Here’s Albert Ryckman’s latest report:
“I’m still in Keflavik. I’ll be boarding my IcelandicAir flight back to the west coast this afternoon. For your blog purposes here’s my report of the week I just spent on Grimsey Island. Wanna see Atlantic Puffins?”

“There are a number of accessible colonies in Eastern Canada and elsewhere in Iceland. But…….by general agreement  the very best place in the whole world is on Grimsey Island.  Grimsey is a small Icelandic island in the North Atlantic located at 66.54 N.  It is literally right on the Arctic Circle. The Island is 4 miles long and is accessible by a 3-hour Ferry ride from the Icelandic Mainland.”  

See that pale bird in the background? That’s a fulmar. On Farne Island I watched them bully the puffins incoming with full beaks. The fulmars try to steal the meal. Mostly the puffins out-ran them, when they landed and then ducked into their burrows where fulmars cannot follow.

Iclenad still has puffin hunting season, the only where it is still legal: hunting season is from September 1st until April 25th while the birds are at sea. Iceland plans to end its commercial whale hunting in two years–leaving only Japan and Norway with that dazzling contribution to planetary health and welfare.

A Few more pics, click on any to enlarge:

The big ball near the cliff marks the Arctic Circle. Albert writes: “GRIMSEY ISLAND is home to approximately 300,00 Atlantic Puffins.   Puffins spend most of their lives at sea.  They begin arriving in late May and start inhabiting the tens of thousands of burrows along the edges of the island’s cliffs. Each female Puffin lays a single egg which hatches after about 40 days.  The parents take turns going out to sea and returning with fish to feed the chick for another 40 days. The chick actually never emerges from the burrow where you can see it.  Then, in late August  all the adults Puffins just fly away in late August leaving the chicks to fledge and fly out to sea on their own!  So the best time to photograph these amazing birds on Grimsey Island is late June thru the month of July.”
“Photographing them in flight along the cliff edge is always a fun challenge.”
” Together Forever.  Puffins are mostly monogamous.  They can live more than 40 years and return to the same burrow on the same island each year.”
Of the image where it looks two heads on one body: ” These Siamese twin Puffins were Sonia’s [Albert’s wife] favorite.”

Albert explained which side of the island is best in morning, which is better afternoon. So if you are going…”The cliffs on the West side are best for afternoon photography.  The distinctive tangerine colored  lighthouse is seen with the Icelandic mainland just 25 miles away.”

” Flight shots are usually taken at 1/3200 second.”
” When the winds are strong the Puffins can basically hover in place.”

Food seemed to be shrimp and sand eels.

“This image was my favorite of the trip  taken near the Lighthouse in lovely late afternoon light.”

Sun sets on a brillaint experience:

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